Mergers - Steven L. Layne
Imagine a world where there are no racial differences. Everyone looks exactly the same, with a blending of Caucasian, Asian, African American, and Hispanic American features. This is the world that Dirk Tyrone, Keiko Tan, Mateo Rodriquez, and Nicci Golden are born into. The minute they are born, they are in immediate danger. They are the first children to be born with distinct cultural characteristics since the government implemented the Merger and they don't want word of it getting out. No one in the world even remembers a time when people could be different and they don't want people to question the Merger. In order to prevent the possibility of it happening again, the government murders the parents of the four children. Dr. Lisa Tyrone is the doctor present during the birth of the children. In addition to being hospital personnel, she is also the biological aunt of Dirk. Wanting desperately to save the children from extermination, she escapes the hospital with the four babies and goes into hiding. Not only do the teens look different from everyone else in the world, but they also have powers. Dirk is a telepath and can enter the minds of people he comes into contact with. Keiko is an empath. She can heal people with her touch by taking on their pain and dispelling it from her body. Mateo is a metamorph and can change into any animal he thinks of and finally, Nicci is a time traveler and can manipulate time, past, present, and future. For fourteen years Dr. Tyrone is able to keep herself and the children safe, but finally, the man behind the Merger project, Senator Broogue, captures them all with plans to get rid of them once and for all. After much torture, the children don't think they are going to make it out alive. When they feel all hope is lost, help arrives. Three people with district ethnic characteristics and similar powers to the kids appear and fight off Senator Broogue and whisk the kids away to safety. Unfortunately, Dr. Tyrone is too badly injured and can't be saved. The teens must deal with their grief while at the same time learn more about the world they live in and why it is the way it is. In addition, they also learn about what the world would be like if Senator Broogue hadn't altered the past and created the Merger. After a time of training with the Elders in order to learn how to better use their powers, they are sent back in time to challenge the Senator and prevent him from changing the past. If they succeed, the world will be back on the right path where people's individuality is appreciated. MERGERS is Steven Layne's second novel. His debut novel, THIS SIDE OF PARADISE, was the winner of the Hal Clement Award for best science fiction for young adults in the United States. MERGERS is even better. Action scenes fill the pages and take the reader through the story at a rapid pace. The story has a satisfactory conclusion even though there are some unanswered questions like, who exactly are the Elders and how are they connected to the kids. However, these loose ends don't take away from the enjoyment of the novel.